Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wheel Pasta with Parmesan Bechamel

Birk is at an age now where it is fun for him to look forward to meal.  And I get a kick out of making him meals that he really loves.  He has been brainwashed and trained to just eat whatever is served (and, obviously, bribed).  This is a favorite pasta from the archives that I have made many times.  But I have played around with the recipe enough that I thought I'd re-post it.  Birk has never thought twice about it...until I made with pasta wheels.  Now, he has been requesting it.  Here is my original post and look at this oldie:

This pasta has a creamy-Parmesan sauce.  I am not a huge fan of dairy based sauces because they make me feel sad.  This sauce has a healthy amount of butter for the roux, but the bulk of the sauce is made with a stock and almond milk.  Since all the flavor comes from the Parmesan, the dairy base is not missed.  Technically this is more of a gravy than a Bechamel, but we will all survive with this lie.

I think the smoked salmon is essential for me.  It is basically equivalent to the flavor profile of mac and cheese with hot dogs.  Unfortunately, it can't be made as easily with pantry staples or on a whim, unless smoked salmon is a pantry staple for you.  If that is the case, good for you.  But otherwise, the rest of the ingredients are easy to keep stocked. 

Birk has so far opted out of the balsamic drizzle, but I personally love the tang it brings. 

Lastly, I know my photography skills are making you very envious.  That partially eaten bowl of pasta in low is just beautiful. 

Wheel Pasta with Parmesan Bechamel 
by foodforscot

2 large carrots, peeled and diced (~1 cup)
1 cup of frozen peas
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups stock (chicken or veggie)
1 or 2 garlic clove(s), smashed
1 cup almond milk (or whatever you want)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling on top
2/3 lb of wheel pastas (or any short cut, shells would be good)
4 oz. of smoked salmon
(optional) drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction

Fill a large saucepan (or pasta pot) with enough water to cook the pasta and bring to boil.  While water is coming to boil, continue on with the rest of recipe.  Once it comes to a boil, add pasta and salt and cook it until it is done.  Drain and set aside until the rest of the sauce is done.  But likely the sauce will be done first, waiting for the pasta.  

Place the peas and carrots in a microwave safe bowl and microwave covered for 4 minutes on high, or until carrots are soft.  I use a regular soup bowl and cover with side plate.  If you avoid microwave use to prolong your life, you may steam the veggies some other way (perhaps with your pasta).  The frost on the frozen peas is what makes the microwave method work.

In another saucepan, add the butter and flour.  Cook and stir to make a paste (called a roux, if I want to be a jerk about it).  Cook for a few minutes, this will cook away the raw flour taste.  Add the stock and garlic, bring to gentle boil.  Whisk stock and roux somewhat continuously to avoid any burning on the bottom.  After a few minutes of light boiling, the sauce should thicken.  At this point, add the Parmesan and almond milk and cook for another 5 minutes until Parmesan is melted in and milk is incorporated.  You can remove the garlic, or leave it in for a special surprise.

Once the pasta and veggies are cooked (and pasta is drained), add to the sauce.  Mix to combine.  To serve:  place pasta in bowl, top with a portion of smoked salmon and sprinkle with Parmesan.  You can also drizzle on some balsamic reduction, if you want to be fancy about it. 

(Prep time: 0, Cook time: 30 min., Difficulty: Easy)

-You can use 2 cups of frozen carrot/pea mixture instead of fresh carrots plus frozen peas.  You might not need to microwave as long, but I trust you can figure it out.
-You can replace all the stock with milk, if that is what you have. 
-You can replace the salmon with other smoked meat, like hot dogs.  But don't tell anyone about it. 
-You can make your own balsamic reduction.  Put about 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan.  Bring to boil.  Boil until it reaches a syrupy consistency.  Or just buy it.  They sell it right by the balsamic vinegar at places like Whole Foods. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

No-Bake Energy Balls

I was reading something recently that it is important that we let kids experience boredom.  I also went to Paula Poundstone's show a month or so ago, and she also emphasized the importance of this.  I think adults need to experience boredom more too.  Some of us get into the habit of putting on our headphones and listening to a podcast or music while doing every task imaginable.  I have been known to listen to podcasts while reading Birk the same book I have read to him 100 times.  While its ok to do (not the book reading thing, that is ridiculous), I have my best ideas and thoughts when I just let myself think.  There are plenty of times while commuting (even in the car), that I just let there be silence.  That way, I can experience my thoughts.

For example, how much do you think about flip-flops?  I think about them a lot because I really do not like to wear them.  Some people work all day, waiting for that moment when they get home and they can put on their flops.  Others go about their lives dreaming of the job that allows them to wear flip flops.  Me...I find flip flops incredibly invasive but also too exposing.  To be honest, I can barely handle opened toed shoes.  As I am walking through the streets with my toes exposed, I feel as though all I am doing is putting my feet through an awful lot.  They are getting dirtier, drier, older, sun burnt, calloused.  It just seems as though shoes were designed so that we didn't have to expose our feet to such things.  I can't imagine a situation where I need them and I can't just be barefooted instead?

However, the other thing that I have been thinking about regarding flip flops is that I truly believe there is a positive correlation between people who like flip flops and how much fun a person is.  Story checks out for me.  I am definitely the least fun person I know.  And all my friends, who love flip flops, are way fun.  No way those commas are placed correctly.  See how fun I am!  The question is:  what is wrong with me?  Why can't I be more fun?

You have heard of these energy balls, right?  There are so many versions of these, so I thought I would post mine.  You may think they are for Birk, and they are, but they are more for Scot.  I have made these 4 times so far, and I think I have only ever consumed two balls.  I rarely have an appetite or taste for foods this dense.  Surely this is tied to my love for sitting.  Big fan of sitting.  But I am definitely in the minority, most people really love this kind of thing.

I have really liked having these around because they are so quick.  Birk is endlessly hungry these days.  Scot LOVES these.  This snack is Scot in ball form.  I strongly recommend mini chocolate chips, because the regular sized chips make it difficult to form a ball.  If you look below, I made batch of these with full size m&m's and peanuts, and they were harder to keep together.  I really like the "Enjoy Life" mini chocolate chip brand.  I feel like these need peanut butter (for both flavor and texture), as opposed to a nut butter substitute but I have not experimented.  I would recommend a fairly creamy version, for example, something like Justin's would be too dry.  However, you could probably make it work by adding more honey.

You will find a lot of versions of these if you google "energy balls".  Many include chia seeds and flax seeds, which would be a fine addition.  Many include vanilla extract, which you CANNOT taste the difference in peanut butter recipes of this nature, so I don't use it anymore.  

PS:  I hardly ever share such deep posts about myself here.  But if you have been reading these posts for a while, you now have to great gift ideas for me:  flip flops and edible arrangements.

No-Bake Energy balls
by everyone on the internet

2 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
~3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
~1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl (I find that a rubber spatula works best).  Don't measure "~" quantities (just eyeball it) because who wants to measure honey or peanut butter?  Might need to adjust quantities, depending on humidity.  Add more oats if too sticky, add more honey/peanut butter if too dry.

When mixture is at a consistency that allows you form a ball, add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.  Roll into balls.  This makes about 15 balls that are approximately 2-3 Tablespoons big.  But it doesn't matter.  Just make them however big you want.  If you are having trouble rolling them, you can also refrigerate for a half hour and roll after.

Keep refrigerated (tastes better cold anyway).

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Baked Pinto Bean and Swiss Chard Burritos (ATK)

This is one of our favorite dinners.  foodforscot 2015 and prior contained food for scot.  Meaning, I primarily cooked all the recipes.  Because recipes made by scot never made the blog.  I mean, I could show you how to make a bowl of cereal, but I just didn't.

Boy, has he come a long way.  Mostly because children need to eat food frequently and regularly, so waiting until mom** comes home and eating at 9 pm is no longer a viable option.  But these burritos are in Scot's repertoire.  And even better, Birk loves them.  I LOVE when Birk loves food that has more than 2 ingredients in combination.

These are filled primarily with rice, Swiss chard, and pinto beans.  The Swiss chard is stewed in a tomato sauce, which makes it super tender and sweet.  Out of all the greens, Swiss chard is not too bitter to begin with, but it is as mild as spinach in this preparation (I know, I should rewrite this is the worst).  The filling is, most importantly, flavorful with specific and well tested measurements of spices and salt, which is Scot's favorite kind of recipe.

We also love that the burritos are "baked".  Everything inside the burrito is fully cooked and ready to eat, but after assembling, you sprinkle with a little cheese (these have more than I prefer, but I am not picky if someone is cooking dinner for me).  Then, you place under the broiler for only a few minutes to get the tortilla and cheese golden brown.  And you never leave that broiler's side.  In fact, keep the door open and just sit and watch.  The window of when broiling transitions from perfect to burnt is nearly 0.5 seconds.  

Lastly, we like to eat with some guacamole.  My current recipe for guacamole these days is mashed very smooth and seasoned with salt, lime, and garlic powder.  Recently I was preparing some avocado toast and was stuck with a pretty bad, green tasting avocado (although texture was fine).  I added some plain yogurt and it actually sort of fixed it.  Finally, I like to shake on some green Tabasco on every bite.  

Oh actually more.  Birk did not love these the first five-ish times he ate them.  I just wanted to make that clear.  After enough "experience" with this meal, he will even eat these at room temperature in his lunch box.  And they are great reheated too.  I have to stop writing about these burritos because my enthusiasm is starting to make me uncomfortable.  They are burritos.  You get it.  

Baked Pinto Bean and Swiss Chard Burritos
recipe from "The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook", America's Test Kitchen*

2¼ cups vegetable broth, divided
¾ cup brown rice, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lb. Swiss chard, stemmed and sliced into 1-inch wide strips
1½ cups cooked pinto beans (1 15 oz. can), rinsed, divided
1 tablespoon lime juice
6-7 10-inch flour tortillas
10 oz. Monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 2½ cups), divided

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1¼ cups of the broth, the rice, half of the garlic, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender and the broth has been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the cilantro and fluff with a fork to incorporate. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, chipotle, cumin, oregano, remaining garlic, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chard and ½ cup of the broth, cover and simmer until the chard is tender, about 15 minutes.

Using a potato masher or a fork, coarsely mash half of the beans with the remaining ½ cup of broth in a bowl, then stir into the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and remaining whole beans. Cover to keep warm.

Adjust an oven rack to 6 inches underneath the broiler element and heat the broiler. Wrap tortillas in a damp dish towel and microwave until warm and pliable, about 1 minute. Lay warm tortillas on a work surface. Mound warm rice, chard-bean mixture and 1½ cups of the cheese in the center of the tortillas, close to the bottom edge. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, fold the sides of the tortilla over the filling, then fold up the bottom of the tortilla, pulling back on it firmly to tightly wrap around the filling and into a burrito.

Place the burritos seam side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Broil until the cheese is melted and starting to brown, 3-5 minutes. Serve warm with guacamole.

 *I copied the text of this recipe from ( because I didn't want to type it out myself but I just use the cookbook!  It is definitely the best cookbook I have ever owned.  
**Just curious your thoughts on me referring to myself in the third person, as mom?  It is a little uncomfortable but you like it, right?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tuna Onigiri

I am a huge fan of Japanese cuisine.  Sushi, obviously.  But I find it to be such a comforting food culture.  We got to take a trip to Kyoto two winters ago and it is BY FAR my favorite place I have traveled.  NYC would be a close second.  The people were so welcoming.  The three of us idiots knew no Japanese and were very ill-prepared, but never felt like we were a nuisance or unwelcome.  But the food.  The food was everything I want.  Kyoto is particularly known for tofu and vegetarian dishes, but you can find all the typical Japanese food that tourists are looking for like sushi, ramen, soba, tempura, etc.

What I found so fun is eating at convenience stores and grocery stores.  Here is some stuff we got from a grocery store:

Those maki rolls have WAY too much rice (as I write about a recipe that is literally a ball of rice), but I will forgive them this time.  The rest was super good and very affordable.  That box of assorted sushi was less than $5.  On the far left, that is Inari sushi.  It is sushi rice wrapped in this thin piece of tofu that is coated in a sweet glaze.  Birk's fave.    

One of my favorite convenience store/grocery store snacks is the Onigiri.  In the picture below, you can see the 3 Onigiri triangles in the top right corner.  The only trouble we had was that there were so many different types of fillings and our phone translators didn't do a good job telling us what they were!  Surprise every time. 

So what is Onigiri?  It is a triangle ball of rice, filled with fish or veggies, and wrapped in nori.  The rice is typically not seasoned like sushi rice, but could be.  A very friendly filling is a tuna salad, so that is what the recipe below has in it.  It seems so simple, but what does it for me is the crunchy nori.  

You can make these two ways.  The first way is above, using a fancy wrapper (which you can buy here).  The wrapper prevents the rice from touching the nori, which is what makes it crunchy.  These Onigiri are available everywhere in Japan and I have also seen them in big cities like San Francisco and NYC.  They are such a great snack.  I loved them for breakfast.  The second way is in the photo below, just wrapping a normal piece of nori around the rice ball.  The nori will remain crunchy if you eat it right away or if you keep the nori separate from the rice ball until ready to eat.  Or if you want the same texture as sushi (soft nori), you can wrap in advance.

The fun of Onigiri for me is unwrapping it.  Genius packaging!  Here is a video of me unwrapping and eating it.   Trigger warning:  1. horrible video; 2. horrible audio; 3. sort of weird, right?

I like to eat with a little soy sauce, as shown in the video.  Other typical fillings include flaked, cooked salmon or a preserved plum.  I honestly wish I didn't have to make these and could just buy for $1 anywhere, as is the case in Japan.  But they are so satisfying that I will continue to make them until I move to Japan.  

PS:  I know my photography skills are problematic!  I will work on it.  I swear I will not hold every thing I make up to our window and take a back lit photo.  Did you hear the videos? 

Onigiri (filled with Tuna)
by foodforscot

3 cups of cooked sushi/short grain white rice (~1.5 uncooked)
3 full sheets of nori roasted seaweed, cut into thirds (or ~7-9 seaweed wrappers, here)
1 can of tuna, liquid drained
2 tbsp of mayo
2 tbsp of chopped pickles
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp-1/4 cup of sesame seeds

Prep your rice:  If you need directions on how to cook steamed rice without a rice cooker, see this recipe.  I would recommend that you use a rice cooker because it will always do it better than you.  I have this Cuisinart model and it has horrible reviews because if you make more than 2 cups, it overflows and makes a pretty big mess.  However, it STILL makes better rice than me so I have been using it for almost 10 years.  How am I old enough to EVEN say that.  This is how you write recipes, right?

Prep your filling:  mix together tuna, mayo, pickles, and garlic powder.  Use a fork to mash up tuna so there are not big chunks.  Season with lots of pepper, and salt to taste.

Prep your nori:  if you are using regular nori sheets, cut each sheet into three pieces.  If you are using the wrappers to allow you store and eat later, get all the annoying stickers ready. 


Use a mold (here):  rub your surface with water and sprinkle with a little salt.  Place mold on top.  Place cooked rice to fill half the triangle mold and press to compress.  Add a few spoonfuls of tuna mixture.  Fill the rest of the mold with rice and press to compress.  Sprinkle or roll is sesame seeds, and wrap in nori or wrapper.

Here is a video that shows what I just wrote (your choice if you want to be soothed by the audio):

Without a mold:  Rub your hands with a little water.  Sprinkle salt on hands rub together.  Grab about <1/4 cup of cooked rice.  Using a cupping motion with both hands, form ball.  Make a small indentation in the middle and fill with a spoonful of tuna mixture.  Redip your hands in a bit of water and add another <1/4 cup of rice to cover the tuna mixture.  The amount of rice doesn't need to be exact.  1/3-1/2 cups of rice per Onigiri seems reasonable.  Those numbers seem off based on the video.  Continue to mold using a cupping motion with your hands.  Once ball is formed, you can form into a triangle.  Just watch the video this is impossible to explain.  Sprinkle or roll is sesame seeds, and wrap in nori or wrapper.

Here is a video that shows what I just wrote (one of the creepier things I have done, also audio is optional and probably should be avoided):

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Healthy School Treats


Yikes.  A lot of life happened.   Super cute that my last post was "How I fed my baby during his first year".  Baby is now in preschool and I am still nearly as anxious that I am going to destroy him by feeding him the wrong food.  Something I am well aware I am worrying too much about but we all need something to spend our time on.

I have wanted to make it back to writing and sharing recipes so many times.  In fact, I have drafted many posts and later deleted them.  So, I figured, let's start with baby steps.  Healthy School Treats.

Birk just finished his third year of "preschool".  And guess how many schools hes been at?  Four.  Oh, man.  And, I have been so lucky to find schools with good, healthy food policies.  Amazing teachers.  I have loved his schools SO much.  However, the thing I still can't get on board with is school treats.  There are holidays, celebrations, and 75 birthdays each semester, and they so often bring with them a hugely celebratory treat.  I am ok with Birk celebrating a relevant occasion with dessert, but I just don't think that needs to happen at school.  It seems that there is one per week!

However, instead of being a party pooper, I thought that I could at least come up with some healthy school treats.  I have sent these three different treats to school with great success.  And these were tested on a group of 3-6 year olds who are used to getting real treats for other birthdays and holidays.  The three are:

1.  Berries - strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  The kids liked them so much, they requested the leftovers for their second snack.  Seems simple, maybe a little expensive for some, but a huge hit.

2.  Frozen yogurt covered banana - these were super popular.  The teachers said the kids had so much fun eating these.  See recipe below and photo above.

3.  Raspberries with a dark chocolate chip inside.  I got this idea from Annie's Eats, as she puts these as a treat in her kid's lunch boxes sometimes.  I sent these for valentine's day in a tiny paper cup.  A serving was 3, because raspberries are very expensive.  But sometimes when a treat arrives in a small portion, it tastes so much better.  The kids also loved these.  See photo below!

Next time, I will return with adult human food. 

Frozen Yogurt Covered Bananas
makes 3 pops (math for more)

1 banana (make sure they are ripe!  not green but not mushy yet.  )
1 cup of whole milk yogurt
1-2 tbsp of honey
sprinkles (I like these)
3 Popsicle sticks

Cut the banana into three equal pieces.  Insert a popsicle stick into each piece and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make sure the baking sheet can fit in your freezer!

Whisk together yogurt and honey in a bowl or a cup suitable for dipping.  Taste and adjust sweetness to your liking (doesn't need to be very sweet, though, because bananas are so sweet).  Dip each banana on a stick into the yogurt mixture and return to baking sheet.  Once finished dipping, sprinkle with sprinkles.

Place in freezer uncovered overnight or until completely frozen.  Once they are completely hardened, you can put them in a freezer safe bag until you are ready to deliver to school.  They can all be placed in a gallon size bag together, they do not stick for me (as long as they aren't allowed to melt and refreeze!). 

Friday, April 18, 2014

How I Fed my Baby during his First Year

I put a lot of thought into how I would feed Birk.  However, this post is not intended to put pressure on you to feed your own offspring in any particular way.  I am passionate about food and eating the real stuff and the right stuff.  It is important to me.  A few people have asked me to share recipes and ideas for what I did with Birk.  Here it goes (of course, this is long, what do you expect!)

I do have to say, I had a couple of rules that I followed throughout the process:

1.  Don't feed him anything that I can't eat myself.
2.  Focus on vegetables.
3.  Avoid fruit by itself.
4.  Try to keep meal time fun and light.  Don't get frustrated.
5.  Avoid dairy.
6.  Avoid bland food, white food, empty carbs (obviously).
7.  Obviously no sugar, white flour, or food with no nutrients.

0-6.5 months

Birk was on a milk only diet.  He nursed approximately every five minutes.  Kidding.  He was not on a schedule but it was every 1-4 hours including through the night.  Between 1-3 months, he slept pretty well at night so he would go 5 or 6 hour stretches without eating.  But once he was around 4 months, he nursed at least every 3 hours through the night.  Conclusion.  Lots of milk.  I will forever miss this because a milk only diet is so easy.  You don't have to pack food, make food, worry about food.  

6.5-7 months
Day 1 - Avocado pieces

Birk tried non-milk food.  This did not go so well.  We wanted to start with avocado.  And I had read a lot about baby led weaning.  Where you let your baby feed themselves and skip the puree phase.  I am oversimplifying the whole thing, but you can read about it elsewhere if you are interested.  I put a few pieces of avocado on Birk's plate and let him put it in his own mouth.  He didn't.  Despite putting every other non-edible thing he touches in his mouth, he wasn't interested.  I took a little piece and put it in his mouth (against all the rules of baby led weaning).  He gagged, which then caused him to choke, which then caused him to puke what seemed like 5 gallons of milk out onto the tray.  What a great start!  It was so scary.  The video above is after all of that happened...

Day 2 - Avocado Soup

Day 3 - Avocado Soup with Dad

Let't try pureeing!  After a few days (or the next day), we tried again.  I mashed up an avocado and mixed it heavily with breast milk.  I call this, avocado soup.  After trying this many times, he started hating it less.  Avocado is nice and fatty, however, it is not sweet at all.  And if you taste breast milk (at least the foodforscot variety), it is very sweet.  You can see in the Day 2 and Day 3 videos that he ate maybe a tablespoon and was overall not super interested in the whole thing.


-More or less mass chaos.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 1 tsp. to 1 tbsp. each meal; 1 meal each day or every other day.
MILK: every three hours.

7-8 months

Second Taste Ever - Butternut Squash Puree

Third Taste Ever - Oats (mixed with Apples and Cinnamon)

During this month, I started to experiment with different types of purees, but all the purees were mild, easy flavors.  You will notice in the Butternut Squash video, that he still had a hearty gag reflex.  He kept that for many months.  

For the first part of the month, I was only feeding him once per day.  And it was at various times.  Towards the end of the month, I would occasionally feed him twice in one day.  However, he hardly ever ate much at both meals.  Here is what I tried in order:

-Butternut squash, roasted, pureed.  This was not hated, but not loved.  
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with our summer apple* sauce and cinnamon, then pureed.  This is still to this day his favorite thing to eat.  This is the first thing he ate that he seemed to like.
-Pumpkin, roasted, mixed with cooked brown rice, pureed.  This was a favorite.
-Potato & Carrot either roasted or boiled, then pureed with salt, pepper, and butter.  This was a favorite.
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with banana*, pureed.  This was rejected for the most part.  
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with cooked peaches*, pureed.  This was a favorite.

Carrot and Potatoes, a silky smooth puree

*Anything made with fruit was minimally sweet.  In fact, I often made a big pot of oatmeal for all of us and then had to add brown sugar to mine to really enjoy it.  The apple sauce we made is the full apple, we did not peel the apples.  Obviously no sugar or added anything.


-At this point, we all ate oatmeal every day and just pureed some for Birk.
-Purees were saved in the fridge, as I was still determining what he liked and would eat.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 1-2 ounces each meal; 1-2 meals per day.
MILK: every three hours.

8-9 months

This is how he eats if it is something he has had many times before.

This is how he eats if it is something new.  

During this phase, I started to introduce green vegetables now that he was capable of putting food in his mouth and swallowing.  Something that apparently did not come naturally to him.  At this point, he was consistently eating twice a day, always in the morning and then at lunch or dinner or some time in between.  When feeding him purees, I preferred to feed him while I was cooking or before I ate.  But I would occasionally feed him during the meal time too.  We continued with purees, here were the new ones:

-Delicata Squash, roasted, mixed with cooked millet, seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme (optional), pureed.  This was a favorite.
-Acorn Squash, roasted, mixed with brown rice, seasoned with salt, pepper, pureed.  Liked it.
-Sautéed Kale mixed with roasted Sweet Potatoes, pureed.  Anything mixed with sweet potatoes was a favorite hardcore.  I also did this with spinach, which is a much smoother puree.
-Boiled potatoes mixed with sweet corn (frozen from the summer), seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter, pureed.  Liked it fine.
-Roasted carrots and turnips, seasoned with salt and pepper, pureed.  Liked it fine.
-Mashed avocado.
-Cooked whole oats, mixed with blueberries, pureed.  Liked it.
-Lots of other combos of:  acorn squash, spinach, broccoli, millet, brown rice, pumpkin, other winter squashes, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.
-Avocado pureed with boiled potatoes.
-Butternut Squash and Oats, pureed.

Blueberry Oats on the face

 The Oatmeal!  Mom and Birk versions

 Butternut Squash & Potato, Butternut Squash and Oats, Avocado & Potato


-Oatmeal was made every 3-4 days.  I would make a big pot for all of us, the portion out 3-5 servings for Birk that were kept in the fridge.  I put them in 4 ounce canning jars.
-Purees were generally made "in bulk".  I would save a few portions in the fridge in the 4 ounce canning jars.  I put the rest in a silicon mold which froze 4 ounce portions.  I kept the frozen portions in freezer bags.  I usually had 4-6 options for him at any time in the freezer.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 2-3 ounces each meal; 2 times a day.
MILK: every three hours.

9-10 months

Birk starts to really enjoy meal time, savors his bites.  

Birk eating a very pureed food (amaranth, apricot, banana).

Birk eating non-pureed oats for the first.  

Birk eating millet, spinach, and basil.

During this phase, I started to introduce more sophisticated flavors and textures.  He got his first taste of beans and lentils.  At this point, we were giving him a chance to eat three times a day.  When we started three times a day, he consistently only ate well two of those times.  The other time he would eat maybe a bite or two and then not be interested.  This happened for about 3 months.  At this point, he did not respond well to texture.  This is when I first tried to not puree his oats or to feed him whole millet mixed with a puree.  When these were introduced, I would give it to him 3, 4 times and he would not eat them or much.  Sometimes I would go back to pureeing and try the non-pureed again.  Sometimes I would continue to try.  Either way, it took about a month for him to get used to the texture and start eating more than a few bites.

At this point, he was also being tested for his iron levels at his well visits.  Although they were not low, they were not high.  I did various this at this point to try to help with this including:  adding apricot and prune purees into his oatmeal, adding greens, beans, cooking in a cast iron skillet, etc.  I also love using millet.  It is such a fast grain to cook (compared to rice) and has a totally neutral flavor.  Here were some new dishes we tried:

-Millet, zucchini, basil, apple sauce, pureed or everything chopped super fine.
-Boil dried apricots or prunes in water until very soft.  Puree.  Freeze in ice cube tray.  Add to dishes as needed.
-Cranberry beans and brown rice, pureed.  All the beans I made for Birk from dry.  It is important when giving babies beans to give then plenty of time to cook.  Soak over night.  Rinse.  Boil for 2 hours.  The soaking and long cooking helps with gas and keeps the texture very soft.  Birk has always liked beans.
-Steamed asparagus and cooked millet, pureed.  Seasoned with salt, pepper.  Not a favorite.
-Spinach, basil, millet, pureed.
-Cooked lentils, kabocha pumpkin, seasoned with oregano, salt, and pepper.  This was a favorite.  Scot claims that this tastes like Sugar Cookies, however, no one agrees with him.
-Cooked amaranth, pear, and pumpkin, pureed.  This was intended to give him some variety at breakfast.  He liked it.
-Cooked amaranth, banana, apricot, pureed.  He ate it well at first, but seemed to get sick of it.

Left: Avocado face.  Right: Thanksgiving dinner (mashed potatoes, butternut squash/kale puree, pumpkin puree-dessert)
Birk's first restaurant food - Carrot Ginger Soup from a vegan restaurant


-same as last month.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 2-3 times per day.
MILK:  every 3-4 hours.

10-11 months

Up until this point, he really didn't put food in his mouth.  This is him self feeding.

Then, he FINALLY puts food in his own mouth.  Avocado.  

The start of self feeding for us!  This was by far the most difficult stage of eating.  At this point, Birk was just getting his first four teeth, not that they help much anyway.  But I found it very difficult to find food that he could feed himself but that also followed my rules.  Not to mention, he just didn't put food in his mouth.  At this point, I was still mostly doing purees but giving him finger food at every meal.  Here are the finger foods that I found worked best for his novice pincer grip (he didn't have one at all, see above video for the method he developed):

-oat pancakes (this recipe, but I used a Chia egg and apple sauce for the liquid).  I made a full batch and froze them.  They lasted about 3 months.  I thought he would devour these, as they are all his favorite flavors.  He didn't, however, they were tempting enough for him to practice feeding himself.  They were very convenient to have in the freezer.
-avocado.  Perfectly soft.  Difficult to grab, but ended up being the winner for Birk.  After enough practice, he really perfected his technique of eating avocado.  This has been his all time favorite, go to food.  See above video.
-pieces of bread dipped in a veggie sauce.  He would have trouble if they were too soggy, so to encourage him to feed himself, I'd give him the plain bread.  Then the next piece would have a little sauce on it.  Repeat as necessary.  The veggie sauce could be any pureed veggie, soup, etc.  We eat lots of stuff like this so I just pureed whatever I had.
-roasted root veggies - carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.  I tried turnips, beets, rutabagas, and other similar root veggies and found they do not get very soft when roused.  I preferred to cut them into small pieces prior to roasting because the skin that formed when roasting helped him pick up the pieces.  However, sometimes that skin made me nervous too so I would remove it before giving it to him.

Otherwise, purees were similar:

-veggie purees mixed directly with millet.
-always mixing green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli with either sweet potato or butternut squash.  Cutting it with a grain also helped.
-his oats were now whole!  always!  so much easier!  We stopped pureeing grains, in general.
-he liked anything pureed with lentils.  Lentils puree up much better than beans.

Overall, Birk was very bad at feeding himself this entire time.  This was a difficult transition for all of us!

One method was to let him eat directly off the plate.  Worked this time!


-for oatmeal, we would just make 1 cup of oats for Birk and portion it out in the 4 ounce canning jars.  We would do this every 4-5 days.
-For any puree or pseudo puree, I was still freezing batches, as before.  But often times I would just have enough for a few days in the fridge.
-I would also freeze roasted veggies and the oat pancakes.  An important tip with freezing these types of things, you need to lay them out and flash freeze them on a baking tray before transferring to a freezer bag or container.  That way you can easily retrieve pieces.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 2-3 times per day.  (and maybe less, this was a rough patch)
MILK:  every 3-4 hours.

11-12 months

Dipping roasted sweet potatoes into a pureed lima bean sauce.

This is very often how meal time goes.  

Self feeding started to pick up here.  We were traveling a lot during this period which changed our habits a bit.  Although he allowed us to spoon feed him his oatmeal in the morning, it was around this time that he did not want to be spoon fed purees.  He wanted to feed himself!  I found a lot of great finger foods for him during this time:

-sticky brown rice (or while traveling, any rice)
-tofu - he loves tofu.  I would season it up with different spices:  cumin, coriander, paprika, turmeric, etc.  He ate it in different asian sauces that we were eating.
-black beans, cranberry beans - cooked from dry.  Overcooked so they split and so they were very soft. Tip:  store beans in their liquid so they don't dry out.  Even while feeding him, I kept the beans in a bowl of liquid.
-roasted sweet potatoes continued to be a favorite.  I started dipping them in veggie sauces so that he could get other veggies in.  See video above.
-avocado is our go to emergency food.
-started give him little pasta shells with different veggie sauces:  pestos, spinach/tomato, tomato, etc.  I started with brown rice, gluten free pasta.  It is very soft.  He loves pasta.
-hard boiled egg yolks.  He was a big fan however, they are difficult to eat.  I almost always was feeding him something else with the yolks, so often I would just coat the other food in the yolk pieces.
-Started making veggie curries with boiled veggies (all the root veggies, since thats what we had from our CSA) and mixing with coconut curries.
-banana - out of pure desperation when we were traveling, Birk started eating bananas.  It is the one and only food that is finger food friendly and available EVERYWHERE.  At first, he would eat about a quarter.  One time he ate the whole thing.  Usually he eats half.  He doesn't actually seem to love bananas actually, but he will eat them.
-fish - tried halibut and salmon.  It is a good finger food and he did like it.
-steamed broccoli with sauce (I would add it to pastas).  A very good finger food.  Not his favorite, but he is coming around.

Left:  Birk eat avocado.  Right: Birk eating/squishing beans.  


-nothing to freeze anymore.
-hardboiled eggs were cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

Traveling Tips

-Always had a banana and avocado.
-Bought packets of instant oats.  Individual containers of unsweetened, organic apple sauce.
-We went to Hawaii for a week, but were gone from home a total of 2 weeks.  I bought some emergency squeezable pouches because there were plenty of moments when it was impossible to find something for him to eat.  My research led to me this brand.  Per my rule #1, yes I did eat every single one I gave him.  Even though the flavors I bought weren't bad, he did not eat much.  And I didn't give him any that were pure fruit.  It helped us in a pinch.  Some of them have nice mixes of greens and fruit, which were a favorite of me and Birk.  He also liked pure sweet potato, which I bought with the intension of mixing into some rice at a restaurant.
-Vegetarian restaurants almost always had lots of option for Birk.
-Almost any ethnic restaurant (in other words, non-American food) usually has some stewed veggie dish with rice
-Whenever I go out with Birk, when possible, I bring food with me.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 4 ounces per meal; 3 times per day.
MILK:  every 4 hours; sometimes he sleeps 5-6 hours at night without nursing.

1 year!

Orzo with Spinach pesto and roasted red peppers.  

Birk eating Chana Masala (I made and brought to restaurant) on his first birthday.

Birk is just starting to try to use a spoon.

It is amazing to watch his journey in eating.  Amazing and like really hard.  My Rule #4 is a hard one.  After making Birk food, I have to muster up all that is in me to NOT get frustrated when he throws it on the floor or feeds to Copper.  Now a days, he eats quite well at the beginning of the meal.  But resorts to throwing and feeding Copper once his initial hunger subsides.  Right now, I tell him not to do it and motion that he should put the food in his mouth.  He usually listens and puts the next bite in his mouth.  Repeat a few times.  Then eventually, he just sits and enjoys the rest the meal as an observer.  This might change at some point, but that is how it is going now.

-The Veggie Sauce - 1 jar of tomato sauce (20 + ounces), 1 jar of water, 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped into pieces, 1 head of broccoli, chopped into pieces.  Put all in pot.  Bring to a boil.  Boil until tender.  Puree with stick blender.  Put on pasta, rice, veggies, or use as a dip.  You can add apple sauce if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.
-Cauliflower/Spinach sauce - Boil chopped up cauliflower in water or veggie stock (enough liquid to just cover).  Once it is very tender, blend with immersion blender….add dijon, half of a cup of shredded cheese, several large handfuls of spinach.  Blend again until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Put on pasta, rice, veggies, or use as a dip.
-Scrambled eggs.  He loves them, I plan to add spinach soon.
-Roasted red peppers.  He really liked them at first.
-Chickpeas are one of his favorite beans.  I cook from dry in big batches.
-Hummus - I make my own for him with basically chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.  He eats on little pieces of bread right now.
-Indian food - oh my…it has to be his favorite thing.  He loves Chana Masala.  All the stewed veggies in the different Indian sauces.  Paneer is an obvious favorite.  Rice.  He likes it all.
-Polenta.  Cook polenta, pour into a brownie pan.  Refrigerator until solid.  Slice and then sauté in butter.  Serve with a sauce or hummus. 
-Whole wheat pasta.  Orzo is a great cut (see above video).  Or shells are good because they can hold a lot of sauce.  Above he is eating orzo with a spinach pesto and roasted red peppers.  


-nothing to freeze anymore.
-hardboiled eggs were cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

How much and how frequent?

NON-MILK: 6 ounces per meal; 3 times per day.
MILK:  every 4-5 hours; more frequently at night; more consistently sleeping 5-6 hours at night without nursing.


As of now, I still stand by my limited dairy and limited fruit rule.  However, over the past three months, he has only gained one pound!  When he was an immobile, milk chugging infant, he packed on the pounds.  Now he is crazy, active, and always busy.  I am happy with the amount he eats, but am always considering added some easy calories.  My theory is that once kids start eating fruit and cheese, they will struggle to eat the healthy stuff.  He is not a particularly adventurous eater.  For the most part, I have to give him something 5, 10, 15 times before he will start really consuming it.  I will let him taste fruit or cheese or yogurt, but I don't give it to him as part of his meal.  I could consider including plain yogurt in his diet for all those bacterias.  At some point, I will add fruit as a snack, but just not sure when that will be.  I think I am going to permanently leave fruit out of meal time.  We don't eat fruit as part of our meals, so that is easy enough.  As you know, I am not a big cheese person, so that is also not much of an issue.

What about sugar?  I am still not sure when that will be introduced either.  Definitely not until he understands the concept.  Once that happens, we shall see.

I made just about every recipe from this cookbook:


Once I introduced food, I started giving Birk water to drink from a cup.  Our Dr. was the first one who recommended not using a sippy cup.  You can see his progression.  He is pretty good at drinking from a water bottle with like a 1 inch diameter opening.  He can also use a straw, which our Dr. said is good for speech development.  Even though he enjoys drinking water, he is still quite bad at it.  At a year, we are just periodically giving him water throughout the day and at meals.

Birk's first try drinking water.

Birk still learning to drink water out of a cup.

Birk gets better at drinking water out of a cup.